Techies Shouldn’t Underestimate Rupert Murdoch

Posted by Michael Pinto on Nov 10, 2009 in Tech |

Right now every techie in the universe has watched the above clip and drawn the conclusion that Rupert Murdoch “just doesn’t get it”. My thinking is that not only does Murdoch understand very well the business of the net, but he also has the money to back up his vision. The reason is that unlike most other newspapers the Wall Street Journal is one of those rare properties which is a must read publication in its field. In other words like Bloomberg he has one of the few sources of content which is so high in quality that people will be willing to pay for it.

The bigger question is if when you get to his other properties if people will be willing to pay for something like The New York Post. Now the important thing that Murdoch stated in this interview is that amount of money may not be much. At first I have my doubts about this, but then again Murdoch owns Fox — and as a cable outlet his entire viewership is paying to watch that channel. And unlike tech firms I think that Murdoch has a good feeling for how much consumers are willing to pay.

Where he might be going wrong is that my gut tells me that on a computer that with video, multimedia and games the consumer may be willing to pay, but I’m not sure if that applies to good old fashioned text. Although the advantage of being a media mogul is that Murdoch can package the two together.

From an emotional point of view I have sort of mixed feelings by what Murdoch is saying. On one hand he stepping up to techies and boldly stating that editorial content has a value worth paying for, and a creative I find myself taking his side. What he’s doing here could be to content as what Bill Gates did eons ago when he had the audacity to charge for software like operating systems which had been given away for free previously.

On the other hand the consumer in me hates the idea of walled garden when it comes to the web. The idea of a self contained garden like the lame old days of AOL is a real turn off, part of the magic of the web is that it’s an ever expanding universe that knows no limits. I also don’t get a good vibe when Murdoch talks about doing this via legal means.

The other thing above all else that techies shouldn’t forget is that Murdoch is an amazing business man. When you look at him you see a graying man who seems to be representing the graying world of newspapers, but that very same man has built an empire and challenged the good old boys in every single market that he has entered. Murdoch may be gray, but that’s also the color of the Grey reef shark which should never be under estimated.


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